Potsdam and the future of software?

Potsdam (just south west of Berlin) fascinates me. I was there again this weekend.  It is a place steeped in history. Walk through the gardens at Glienicke. Look at the table where Stalin, Trumann and Atlee signed the Potsdam accord. Stand on the bridge where the spy exchanges took place. One of my best friends, Martin, is a raconteur of note and history buff, and he helped make the place come alive for me.  History seeps out of every stone.


Glienicke bridge

Glienicke Bridge, the stuff of spy novels. (photo from Flickrstream –  Max Moureau )

il tavolo della Conferenza di Potsdam

(photo from flickrstream – elisabetta2005)

Potsdam, though, is not just about German, Prussian or European history, it provides a glimpse into the future. Potsdam is home to the Hasso Plattner institute. 


(photo flickr Alexander Saar)

 I’ve written before about the HPI, and the design school there.  I’ve watched several lectures online, and I’ve met a couple of students who have graduated from the HPI.  I’ve been very impressed. I’ve downloaded and skimmed Hasso’s lecture notes on enterprise software, but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually read it in detail.

For anyone thinking of doing undergraduate or postgraduate study in enterprise software, the HPI is definitely worth checking out. It has strong links to the Standford Design School, and a vibrant spin-off model.  

Instilling a culture of design into building software remains a huge challenge, but making it a key part of software education and a research discipline will mean that software will be better for it.

I’d like to see Potsdam become a powerful nucleus for software and software design innovation. With Hasso’s financial and political clout and his active personal commitment to the next generation of software developers, there is every chance that this happen. He has inspired  generations of developers here at SAP, and believe he can do the same with Europe’s brightest. It is great to see one of the great craftsmen of the industry turning his hand to enriching software as a discipline, and encouraging a new wave of startups and innovators.

Berlin is a hotbed of creativity and dynamicism. Every time I visit Berlin, I get a positive feeling about Europe’s future. I sense rebirth, not decay.

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